Justin Carroll ran a perfect race on Sunday night in the Rodney Cook Classic at Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, North Carolina.
His race was the equivalent of a perfect quarterback passer rating, a pitcher’s complete game or a golfing hole-in-one. It took just eight laps for Carroll to take his No. 57 Late Model Stock from fifth to the lead and he would remain unchallenged for the remainder of the 140-lap race.
Trevor Ward had one shot at Carroll on a restart with 35 laps to go, but just couldn’t fire off the straightaway like his rivals could. That allowed Justin Hicks to take second and the trio stayed 1-2-3 until the checkered flags waved.
Carroll has enjoyed competitive cars all summer but this was the first time he had crossed the finish line first this season. Sure, he had won a weekly race in June at Ace when Layne Riggs was disqualified, but this is the first time this season that he collected a trophy the old fashioned way.
“Oh my gosh, this is totally awesome,” Carroll said in victory lane. “All my guys worked their asses off the past two days and it showed. It’s been a rough summer.
“A lot of fast cars and a ton of bad luck. This is awesome to close out at Ace in the Rodney Cook Classic, in front of fans that dealt with the hurricanes, bad weather, the cold, everything. Thanks to everyone for being a part of this.”
There was some debate after the race about Carroll jumping that final restart over Ward, but that was dispelled by the third-place finisher himself, who apologized for stacking Jeb Burton up behind him.
“We struggled on the restarts and I’m sorry for everyone that got backed up there when I didn’t get going,” Ward said. “All in all, I can’t complain with a third-place night.”
Meanwhile, Carroll was just glad he didn’t have to endure another caution and restart.
“I was praying it would stay green,” Carroll said. “I didn’t want another caution. Our car started to go away on us right before the break, after a long run. We made the right adjustments, but I wasn’t sure we could hold off (Ward). He gave me everything I could handle.”
Peyton Sellers and RD Smith led the first handful of laps from the front row before Carroll cut his way through the field. Carroll and Ward had checked out away from Smith and Sellers by Lap 15.
The most notable incident of the night occurred on lap 37 when Thomas Scott connected with lap down Dean Fogleman. The contact occurred on corner entry in Turn 1 with Fogleman drifting down in front of Scott.
Fogleman spun from the contact.
When Scott slowed down from the initial impact, he was tagged from behind by a trailing Layne Riggs, knocking the radiator out of the second-generation driver’s No. 99.
This subsequent crash blocked the entire entrance to Turn 1. Thad Moffitt couldn’t slow down in time and suffered slight damage on his Empire-Petty Motorsports No. 46. And then, 15 seconds after the crash, John Moore inexplicably piled in late, knocking Scott’s left front suspension out of alignment.
That ended their nights.
Scott: “It’s just unfortunate sometimes when you’re racing with lapped traffic,” Scott said. “Dean gave me the outside so I took it and he came down on me like I wasn’t even there.
“There is such a speed difference between the slower and faster cars and it just caused a big wreck. We were okay until cars started piling into me and broke my left front suspension.”
“I thought we had a really good car,” Riggs said. “I was just biding my time and working my way to the front. A lap car was just going way slow and it was just a big pile-up. It knocked the radiator out. A shame because we thought this was a race-winning car.”
The complete results from Ace can be found below.
- Justin Carroll
- Justin Hicks
- Trevor Ward
- Jeb Burton
- Ryan Millington
- Bobby McCarty
- D. Smith
- Peyton Sellers
- Kyle Dudley
- Ty Gibbs
- Brandon Pierce
- Dennis Holdren
- Dustin Rumley
- Thad Moffitt
- Dean Fogleman
- Dylan Ward
- Stacy Puryear
- Jason York
- Thomas Scott
- Layne Riggs
- John Moore